Today, we went to the zoo! We were blessed with some free passes and were able to bring some friends. My dear friend Stephanie and her two children (plus one extra friend) all headed out on a stormy day to see some animals.
It turned out to be a beautiful day, and Soccer Boy was over the moon to see some monkeys. Monkey, monkey, monkey, all day long, that’s all we heard.
But they were happy words.
I think the best thing for me was to be able to bring a friend into my world for an extended period of time, to have her get to know Soccer Boy and experience the things that make this hosting such a great joy and a great challenge.
Laughing as he oohed and aaahed and wowed at every new animal he saw.
Getting grunted at when he didn’t want to hold his camera anymore.
Praising him for his helpfulness in pushing the cart with our coolers in it.
Biting our nails as we watched him careen ahead with said cart.
Monitoring our banana supply to make sure he didn’t sneak one and attempt to chuck it at a gorilla.
Snapping pictures of his joy at seeing the monkeys.
Trying to understand as he pointed and mimed and not getting it, only to discover that he was trying to tell you something amazing.
Feeling the bittersweet admiration of him that follows those moments.
Joying at the ability to please him just by turning up the “moo-sik” in the car.
Showing him grace and kindness when he drops the cooler and it dumps in the middle of the road, knowing from the look on his face that he expected and feared much worse.
Thrilling when he finally interacts with the other kids, teasing them in the car, joining in on a chorus of fake farts and silly noises.
Enjoying his presence. His amazing ability to find happiness in the littlest things. His enthusiasm for life. His bravery.
And later, when I was all alone, holding an over-sugared, over-tired boy who was crying because he was desperately homesick, singing him to sleep, I was comforted in knowing that really, I am not alone.
I have One who is with me in this. I am not forsaken. I am not alone. Not really.
And I was blessed today to have an in-the-flesh friend take the time to be that reminder. To care. To enter my world unafraid. To meet us where we are. To be okay with the crazy and the silly and the confusing. To love us unconditionally.
It was a respite that bolstered me through the next storm.
Stephanie, you are treasured beyond what you know.